When Juan Jimenez enrolled at Kansas State University three years ago, he was able to do so thanks to a then-new state law qualifying undocumented students for in-state tuition.
Jimenez and his family moved from Mexico City to Anaheim, Calif., when he was 5. Even though they crossed illegally, he said, "I never felt different from anybody else. I never felt like an 'alien.' The United States is the only home I've ever known."
"There was this fear of, 'Wow, I might not get to stay here,'" Jimenez said. "It adds a layer of stress. It's sort of like, what's the point? You're going to spend thousands of dollars in tuition, but after you're done, being unsure that you're going to be able to do anything with that diploma, it's definitely discouraging."
Today, Jimenez is a junior, majoring in human resources and international business. During his first year of college, he was able to become a permanent legal resident through his father, who came to the U.S. during a period of amnesty in the 1980s. But he knows many others who don't have that opportunity.
As a result, Jimenez has joined forces with other student leaders in at least eight states, clamoring for the passage of a federal bill they say will help solve the problem.